Review: Gameboard of the Gods

This post will include my review of the book Gameboard of the Gods. The first in the Age of X series by Richelle Mead, published in June 2013.

The text below is taken from the blurb on the back of the book.

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills. When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realise that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods is a strong start in what I think will be an interesting and entertaining series. The plot unfolds at a good pace, with a good mix of characterisation, action, and intrigue to hold the readers attention. The world she created is both plausible and interesting though I did find some of the political divisions confusing. It is set in the future and the blend of technology and the supernatural is what sets this book apart in my mind.

Religion has been pushed to the fringes of society. The practice of divine worship strictly controlled by the state and any unlawful activity on their part is seen as grounds for censure. In order to survive, the gods select champions to represent their interests in this deeply agnostic society, and sometimes these champions don’t even realise they have been chosen.

In terms of the politics, the world appears to be divided among two major technological powers RUNA (Republic of United North America) and EA (Eastern Alliance) and the provinces. The provinces – which are less technologically advanced – exist in South America and (I think) Europe yet somehow RUNA includes regions of the Nordic, Celtic, and Japanese culture. My geographical confusion aside the history that drove this political climate seemed entirely reasonable in the context of the book.

I came to this book with absolutely no previous experience of Rachelle Mead’s books. Based on what I have read in other reviews I consider this to be a good thing. It seems that this story has been written in a different style to her other books and that change appears to have alienated some of her fans. As a new reader of her work I found I quite enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the rest of the series.


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